So much for the blog. For carpe diem-ing. You know what that does? It throws your routine, your discipline. All that stuff that keeps you going in lockdown. The routine run and all.
After Friday’s blog, and requests for Netflix recommendations, and who knows what else since it all merges into a blur (unless you write of course, then it remains somewhere- well, that’s what I find anyway) I missed my 2km run. When 5pm came, I just thought, no, bugger that. I don’t feel like it today. So, I skipped the run. Just like that. Yes see? This is how life happens. How you spend your days, is how you spend your life I think is the saying somewhere (Annie Dillard? I think it was in my last book somewhere?) Though I suppose lock down is an excuse for all of life just being turned upside down. I just didn’t feel the urge and rationed that I could skip the run which would translate to ‘being kind to myself’. That’s all the rage these days. Be kind to yourself. Rest in the moment. Turn inwards and embrace the universal grief.
There you have it: the first failure in lockdown. Missing the opportunity to run. But swim, I did. At my usual time (normally after the run) so around the same time.
And then looking back at my photos, I now remember that I was also presented with an oral on ‘Hydrogen Bond Formation’ by my Gr 11 daughter. Oh, my! now that was something entirely out of my skill set range. Atoms and neutrons and repulsion and attraction of positive and negative energies and intermolecular distancing. I had no flipping idea what it all meant other than trying to relate to the teeny tiny microparticles of what I imagine is contained in a virus, the balanced energy of which is currently destroying the world.
To try and imagine the hereafter? Inconceivable to me.
Which brings me to the weekend which was not quite as frivolous and funny. And from a general online consensus, it feels like many of you too were lolling about in a state of some lethargy.
However, lethargy is not quite what I experienced but a deep pain of the threat of loss. As I sat in my usual spot just before 7am, my morning routine, in my favourite chair on my striped red and white pillow, a soft blanket draped around my body as the sun made its way through the trees, I was overwhelmed with the reality of people I love, dying. That was even hard to write. That word, dying. Because the truth is, that I have had the great fortune and privilege and blessing of both my parents being alive and present as I write this. And being over 50 and all and they now in their 80’s brings me to a reality that I have been contemplating since I celebrated the start of the new year with this strange number, 2020. I remember feeling a little unsettled about this number. 2020. It’s weird. I cannot explain it. Perhaps a numerologist could help but for me, the start of this year with this number felt odd.
One of the things my dad and I often laugh about is how we catch numbers in repetition. So often, we’ll be unaware of time and then we’ll look at a clock or watch and it will be 11:11. Or 2:22. ‘Does that happen to you too dad?’ I would ask and he will say, ‘It happens all the time!’.
I’m crying now. This is hard. Apart from my aunt, my mother’s sister who was very much part of my childhood in Windhoek and Johannesburg, whose death I felt deeply, and whose body I watched as it slowly gave way, I’ve been spared real grief. And I’m scared. I’m scared about how I am going to be able to deal with it because we all know that it’s inevitable but that we cannot be prepared. My dad will turn 88 in September and though he is in seemingly good health, and if I ask, he’ll say, ‘I’m fine, I’m fine, it’s just my body slowly giving in… but let’s not talk about that…how are the kids…’ , I know what’s happening. He doesn’t need to tell me. He’s in pain. He’s uncomfortable. He’s alone. And I don’t know when I’m going to see him.
I haven’t written much about my dad. But I love that man. I don’t think I’ve met anyone who is quite as tender, kind, generous, uncomplicated, selfless, warm and loving. Solid. Simple in his wants. At peace with his own company, and in nature. His knowledge of the bush, the birds, his love of his ‘katze, Mushi.Mushelina.’(These sentences look like they just arrived here but in truth, it’s taken me a long time to get this down. My tears are streaming. I’m trying to get a grip on this) Of course, there’s a whole story about who my dad is. What he did with his life, and how he ended up living about 3kms from my mother in a place called Hoekwil, part of Wilderness on Garden Route, after years in Botswana. He jokes about how he started in Windhoek, then many years later, a few years in Fishhoek and landed up in Hoekwil. Sweetest man. A few years ago, he started writing his memoirs in slow, handwritten, awkward -looking script (he was forced to write with his right hand but is in fact left-handed) and it was difficult to read. Especially since it was written in German. He then got a ‘kind woman’ to type it up for me and I have it now though it doesn’t tell his whole story. It’s one of the story’s I still mean to write one day…
(Phew. Ok, I’m gathering myself)
So. Back to Saturday. As I sat there, tears bleeding onto my journal, I decided that what I want to do, if we get a break at all and lockdown is not extended straight away, though I suspect it will be, would be 3 things: I want to see my dad, I want to walk on Wilderness beach, and I would gather another stash of books.
What would you do?
Part 2 of this blog: (Never done a two- part blog in one. Nothing is the same anymore.)
Never think that the writing muse strikes at decent times. It’s now 6am but I’ve been awake since 3am. Couldn’t sleep. Tossed until 4am. Husband seems to start a soft snore about then. Decided not to waste my time as thoughts swirl around because you can be sure that if I had to sit behind this laptop and attempt some serious writing (aka on work -in- progress projects) nothing would come. I would stare blankly.
So, my advice to writers? Seize the muse. Perhaps it leads onto the other stuff. I pray it helps me for later.
Another possibility for unusual insomnia? The gin and tonic I had, followed by a half a glass of red wine at supper. We are not big drinkers in this house. You may have noticed that there was no beer in last blog (needed for the corn bread recipe) so after spending another fairly unproductive and sombre day yesterday, being Sunday ( even missing an entire journal entry too though I did make up for Friday’s missed run with longer 30 min run and swim on Saturday ) I braved the angst of going to Pick n Pay (dogfood and a hundred other items ) and hovered at the drinks, buying soda water as substitute for beer apparently and adding a bottle of tonic. Only to discover that there was only one or at most two tots of gin left.
There are worse things happening around the world. A gorgeous friend sent me a link to an FT article written by Arundhati Roy after sending me a snippet which I think is one of the most beautiful things I’ve read and included here.
And then one last thing I want to mention. My husband seems to be taking an interest in the kitchen and you would never believe what Saturday night ‘supper’ consisted of? Vetkoek! And some tea. ( This was Saturday, before I’d gone shopping yesterday…)
It’s now pouring with rain. My absolute best.
I hope I’m brave enough to continue with my evening swims. It was the most blissful end to a rather emotional weekend, lying in my Shavashina position in the chemically clean water of the pool, the soft drizzle falling on my face upturned to the sky.
Keep South Africa Safe.
Bless the whole world.